Dr. Tilden reflects on her time as dean

by Vicky Cerino, UNMC public relations | June 30, 2011

Today Virginia Tilden, D.N.Sc., wraps up her distinguished academic career, which includes an eight-year term as dean of the UNMC College of Nursing.

As she prepares to spend more time with her family, Dr. Tilden looks back on her time as the leader of the nursing college.

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Virginia Tilden, D.N.Sc.
What was your biggest accomplishment as dean?

The real work of a dean is to highlight the work of others -- in this case, the terrific work of the faculty and staff of the CON. This has been easy. In my eight years as dean, the college has repeatedly stepped to the plate to address Nebraska's need for nurses with innovative programs, a new campus that serves the northeast region of the state, new partnerships with business, a record number of federally funded training grants, an NIH-funded research center in cardiac research in rural populations, a flawless reaccreditation report, energized curricula and more.

What's your philosophy for successful leadership?

My favorite expression is that leadership is an attitude, not a title. This has become somewhat of a motto of the College of Nursing, and I see it expressed by the 220 people who work in the college. An attitude of leadership says that we show up every day ready to be proactive and accountable and to influence others and the organization in a positive direction.

What are some of your best memories from your time as dean?

I remember driving here eight years ago and looking up just as we crossed the Nebraska border to see the slogan "The Good Life." And it has been. I leave as Nebraska's best promoter. The beauty of the plains, the huge skies, the Platte River and the annual migration of the cranes all are unparalleled.

But it's the people I will miss the most. It is true what they say about Nebraskans -- caring, hardworking people with enduring ties to family and the land, strong work ethic, boundless generosity and deep communitarian values. I will miss the faculty and staff of the College of Nursing and all of my colleagues in the Chancellor's Council. I will miss my own staff in the dean's office and the daily laughs we shared. And I will miss the engagement and excitement of the next peak to climb in making this a great university in serving the state.

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